Pirma Refuses to Disclose Donors for Cha-cha Advertisements

Pirma convenor Noel Oñate. Screengrab from Senate Hearing FB live
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Citing security reasons, the People’s Initiative for Reform Modernization and Action (Pirma) has faced criticism for refusing to disclose the identities of the donors behind their television advertisements promoting Charter change (Cha-cha). The issue was brought to light during a Senate Committee hearing, where Sen. Maria Josefa Imelda “Imee” Marcos, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, pressed Pirma representatives for transparency regarding the ad funding.

During a previous hearing, Pirma convenor Noel Oñate revealed that the group had spent P55 million on the television ads, with half of the amount coming from his own pocket. However, Oñate stated that the donors wished to remain anonymous due to privacy and security concerns.

In addition to the lack of transparency surrounding the funding, questions were raised about Pirma’s status as an organization. The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) confirmed that Pirma’s certificate of registration had been revoked since February 10, 2004. However, Pirma’s lawyers informed the committee that the group had submitted an application to revive its registration, including updates to its email and contact persons.

Senators Maria Lourdes “Nancy” Binay, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, and Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros joined Marcos in urging the PI proponents to disclose the identities of the donors. Marcos also highlighted the committee’s request for documents related to the printing costs of the signature forms and proof of payment of the donors’ tax, which were still pending.

The lack of transparency surrounding the funding of the Charter change ads has raised concerns among lawmakers. Binay expressed surprise at the reluctance of the supporters of Charter change to disclose their identities, while Hontiveros suggested that Pirma’s donors should come forward unless there are other funders involved.

In an effort to generate wider debate on the proposal to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution, Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara plans to hold public hearings on Cha-cha outside of Metro Manila. Angara proposed bringing the discussion to cities such as Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Iloilo, or Bacolod to ensure that all stakeholders have the opportunity to provide their input.

The lack of transparency surrounding the funding of Pirma’s Charter change ads raises concerns about the influence and motives behind the campaign. Transparency is crucial in any democratic process, especially when it involves significant constitutional amendments. As the Senate Committee continues its inquiry, it is essential that the identities of the donors are disclosed, and the necessary documents are provided to ensure accountability and uphold the principles of transparency and good governance.

Source: The Manila Times

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